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Gators Lead Eastern Washington at Half, 35-3

The Florida Gators firmly control the Eastern Washington Eagles heading into the halftime break, up 35-3.

The Florida Gators (2-2; 0-2 SEC) are back in action against the Eastern Washington Eagles (1-2; 0-1 Big Sky) on Sunday.

After experiencing a cancellation in 2020 due to COVID followed by a brief delay out of precautions for Hurricane Ian — which caused devastation in the state of Florida but left Gainesville relatively unscathed other than brief power outages in the surrounding Alachua County area — the contest is (finally) taking place with the Gators controlling the contest through the first 30 minutes.

The Gators entered the contest looking to overcome some of their early season struggles against a get-right opponent from the west coast. 

They have done just that thus far with a 35-3 lead heading into the halftime break.

Following a promising first drive by the Eagles, which resulted in a 33-yard field goal by Seth Harrison, the Gators answered EWU with offensive explosiveness from there.

Florida retook the lead just 11 seconds later as quarterback Anthony Richardson uncorked a deep ball out of play action to Justin Shorter on a post route for a 75-yard touchdown. That continued duo's hot streak from the Gators' loss to Tennessee, connecting on their eighth ball in the past two games for 230 yards and a touchdown.

On the ensuing drive, Richardson continued to impress as he used his athleticism to take off on a 45-yard scamper to push Florida into enemy territory. Three plays later, Florida running back Montrell Johnson punched it in from three yards away to extend the Gators' lead to 14-3.

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Richardson's day came to a halt on the next possession as he suffered an injury scare that required on-field medical attention. He hobbled to the sideline under his own power and sat out for three plays. However, he returned on the drive's final play, handing the ball off to rusher Nay'Quan Wright for a four-yard score to make it 21-3.

Richardson's backup, Jalen Kitna, sufficed in his relief role for the talented Florida signal caller. The offense continued to move at a high rate as Kitna connected on a 22-yard throw to Ricky Pearsall down the right sideline.

Pearsall then took an end around 76 yards to the house on the first play of Florida's fourth drive to give the Gators are convincing 28-3 lead.

Florida is using this week to evaluate the untapped potential of the freshman and sophomore talent at their disposal, specifically on defense, employing the likes of Kamari Wilson, Donovan McMillon and Miguel Mitchell in the secondary and increasing snaps for Chris McClellan on the defensive line. 

That youth is already making an impact, specifically Mitchell and McClellan teaming up to force and recover a fumble late in the first half.

That set up the Gators' offense to score, yet again, on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to Xzavier Henderson.

The Gators will receive the second-half kickoff, where they will look to put the nail in the Eagles' coffin before emptying the bench in the second half en route to a smooth, dominant victory.

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